A world of statistics

While I was writing my column for this week, I received a phone call; a phone call no one should ever have to answer. A friend of mine killed himself in the night.Suddenly the column about political smear campaigns I had been working on seemed meaningless. Hitting the delete button and starting a column over has never been easier. Or harder.Now, my friend wasn’t the noblest soul out there. When I first met him at work one day, I knew he was kind of a rebel, but I also saw that he was one of the nicest, caring people I had ever met. In and out of the judicial system throughout his life, he fought everyday for a new start and a chance at a better life as he got older, but just kept on making the wrong choices and falling in with the wrong people when those chances were denied to him because of his past.Now facing his third strike felony, he took an easy route out rather than face a possible 25 to life.While deleting my earlier column I quickly began researching my new one. I found that statistics shows anywhere from 70-80 percent of people in prision are repeat offenders. Statistics also show that many of those repeat offenders will be back in prison soon after their release because no one will give them a chance.The numbers also show that my friend is now just another statistic.When are people going to stopped being viewed as numbers and viewed as people? When will teens stop being viewed as statistically more likely to steal? Men more likely to cheat? African Americans more likely to be in a gang than Caucasians? And those who have been in prison as worthless and more than likely to go back?Instead of looking at those in our prison systems as faceless crooks rotting behind bars, more effort should be made to rehabilitate those who have made minor infractions to the law so they can have a chance at a new life. I’m not saying giving Charlie Manson a job at KFC would be the best idea, but at least those who have a chance at leading a normal life outside of prison should be given that chance, rather than thrown out on the curb once they are released with little more than a “good luck” and a pat on the back.Once we stop labeling people with statistics, maybe these figures will reverse course. No more statistics of people returning to prison because no one will give them a chance, people profiling others of race or age because they think they fit into a certain category and no more of those who become statistics because they saw no other hope.Once we open our doors to everyone and give everyone a fair chance we can end this statistical war that has been waging for far too long before we all become just statistics.